The last three weeks of Claire’s residency have seen her regularly working with two patients in particular, Caroline and Nawid, who have created some incredible pieces. Various people have also popped into the sessions to engage creatively whenever they could, including other patients, volunteers and NHS staff.
Making mandalas has been the recurring theme over recent sessions, with Caroline dedicating her time to a mandala of a small, intricate nature, whilst meanwhile Claire and Nawid worked together to create a mandala that was destined to have a big impact.
Having developed the initial ideas for the large mandala together, Nawid decided that the final version should incorporate both the colours of the Afghanistan flag and those of the watermelon. He had been experimenting between sessions with various colourways using Adobe Draw on his iPad, something he introduced Claire to during the session, and the two agreed it was a great way to discover the best creative path to take. With Claire providing the vast canvas and taking creative direction from Nawid to recreate their small concept designs on the big empty page, it wasn’t long before the two could see their artwork coming together.
Drawing the circles was the first task and coincidentally the garden room’s fruit bowl was the perfect size; a wonderful work of fate as Nawid’s t-shirt business is all about embracing fruit and its goodness.
At the end of the workshop, Claire took the canvas home with her to add Nawid’s business logo, which the two then intended to paint when Claire returned to the garden.
Whilst the two busily tended to the project, Caroline enjoyed the company of her visitors, before returning to paint her detailed mandala alongside Claire and Nawid using the Campbella watercolour paints kindly donated to the garden. The afternoon passed joyfully and quickly, with Caroline telling Claire that she would be returning to continue her work next week and that she couldn’t have created what she had without Claire’s help and encouragement.
In between gardening, volunteers spent time with the group too and were intrigued as everyone else spending time in the sanctuary to see where the next session would take the group.
Naturally, the following week was host to another great workshop, with Caroline and Nawid returning amongst their other afternoon commitments.
Caroline was able to join for a short while before one of her appointments, something she both appreciated and enjoyed. She told Claire that her family love seeing all the photos of the art she’s created and equally she loves sharing what she’s been up too. Before heading inside, she thanked Claire again and asked if she would bring a mandala book with her for Caroline to keep. Claire happily agreed and was thrilled to hear that Caroline intends to continue creating mandalas once she returns home.
Elsewhere, Nawid was absolutely delighted with Claire’s recreation of his logo and together the two began to use vibrant acrylic paints to bring their mandala to life. Nawid creatively directed Claire as to where to put the red and green, with the two laughing throughout the afternoon as they chatted about many things, including Nawid’s great family visit which had occurred the previous weekend.
Whilst no one could quite believe it, the following week marked Claire’s final session in the garden and fortunately more people were able to join her to wish her a fond farewell.
Everyone successfully completed their respective creative endeavours, with Caroline being the first to finish her stunning mandala painting. It looked truly beautiful shimmering in the early autumn sunshine, lending the garden and garden room something of a magical feeling.
Nearby, Nawid and Claire were putting the final touches to the large mandala artwork, with Nawid adding a cloudy background inspired by the painting of the sky which adorns the ceiling of the garden room. The final piece is incredible, as you’ll see below, and one which Nawid is rightly proud of. The two also wore t-shirts created by Nawid’s company as they revealed the final piece, which was a thoughtful way to pay homage to the mandala’s original inspiration.
Being that it was Claire’s final workshop in the garden, the man who is fond of Ford Capris, who some of you may remember, also painted. Working with Claire, he painted the flames on the drawing she kindly created for him, a detail that the piece certainly couldn’t have done without.
Head Gardener Imogen painted too and was so pleased to not only be able to enjoy a spot of creativity alongside the patients she’s come to know well, but also to be able to use the vegan Campbella paints that Caroline is so fond of. It was great fun for everyone and a lovely reminder of all the joy Claire has brought to the garden since she began her residency in May.
Everyone shared how sad they are to see Claire leaving the garden, with volunteers, NHS staff and of course patients all telling her how much her time in the sanctuary has meant to them. Head Gardener Imogen gave her a gorgeous card on behalf of everyone to say thank you and Claire reassured all those present that she hopes (and we hope!) she will be able to return for a second residency in the new year.
Feeling the same sweet sorrow, Claire shared:
“It’s just been fabulous to see patients enjoying the creative process and I’ve absolutely loved working alongside everyone. I’ve had such a brilliant time, have met some fantastic people and it really has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Thank you for welcoming me into the garden. I have loved every minute.”